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Published in Stream:
Russia Update: February 9, 2015
Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Anti-American Attitude of Russians 'Worst It Has Been in 25 Years': Levada Center
8 years
Soldiers' Mother Head in Prikumya Charged with Fraud; Raised Cases of Russian Soldiers Killed in Ukraine

The Levada Center has found a record percentage of anti-Western sentiment in Russia, Novaya Gazeta reports; 81% of Russians have a negative attitude toward the United States, and 42% call relations between Moscow and Washington "hostile" -- 10 times as many as last year (from 4%).

As for the EU, 71% of Russians have a negative attitude and 24% think relations between the EU and Russia are hostile (a year ago, it was 1%), Vedomosti reports. Even so, 40% still believe that relations with the West can be strengthened, even as 36% propose distancing Russia from the West.

The number of those who believe Russia is equal with the most influential powers of the world has reduce from 45% in 2008 to 27% today.

Aleksey Grazhdankin, deputy director of the Levada Center said that the attitude of Russians toward the West and specifically the US was the worst it had been in 25 years, and this was related to "the situation around Ukraine and lack of understanding by Russians of the nature of the sanctions."

Respondents believe that the sanctions have some kind of hidden economic agenda, i.e. fear of competition from Russia, and believe the West is trying to push a growing rival aside, yet others acknowledge that Russian economic development is not as successful as it seemed before the 2008 crisis.

Russians believe that the West is to blame for the war in Ukraine, but they believe that if a settlement is reached, relations will gradually improve, says political analyst Dmitry Orlov.

But Aleksei Makarin, another political analyst, says he is not certain of such an outcome. Russians had traditionally divided "the bad USA" from the "good Europe," but even before the war in Ukraine had begun to change their attitude toward Europeans as people who "renounced their values" and expressed themselves "at the expense of traditional values."

An interesting aspect of the chart showing the ups and downs of attitudes by Russians toward America indicate that even during the re-set in the first Obama Administration, there wasn't a steady rise, but evidently certain events could make attitudes plunge again.

This chart asks "How Do You Regard the USA Now in General?"


The flip side of the poll seems to be that Russians have a poor self-image for their country - and these may be related and self-reinforcing, although the Russian media hasn't discussed this part of the poll.

When those surveyed were asked "How do most developed countries of the world regard Russia now?" in January 2007, there was a low percentage -- 4% -- which rose in 6% perhaps even due to the attitude of South Ossetia and Abkhazia to Russians - but which went to 2% this January. It has never gone above 6% in the last 7 years.

Meanwhile, only 21% believed other countries saw Russia "as a partner"; this was higher in January 2009 at 39%. The largest percent -- 37% -- believe Russia is seen as a competitor -- which fuels the idea, as the article explains, that sanctions aren't imposed to change aggressive behavior and deer it, but to compete out of jealousy. Respondents also said 27% believe Russia is perceived as an enemy, which is up from 16% in March 2014, and up from 7% in January 2007 and 8% in January 2013. That's significant -- that the belief that Russia is seen as an enemy has increased more than three-fold.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick